Sweden is the only European country to have witnessed a significant surge of deadly shootings since 2000, a report revealed on May 26.
Sweden has gone from having one of the lowest rates of gun violence in Europe to one of the highest in less than a decade, with 42 deadly shootings in 2019 and 48 people shot dead in 2020, according to a report by the National Council for Crime Prevention (Brå).
“As regards the level of gun homicide, the rate in Sweden ranks very high in relation to other European countries, at approximately four deaths per million inhabitants per year,” the report, which examined 22 other European countries, said.
The report did not find a clear explanation for the rise of gun homicide rates, but it named illegal drug markets, criminal gangs, and lack of confidence in the criminal justice system as primary risk factors. Although, the report also noted that these factors were also present in other European countries that have not witnessed the same surge in gun violence.
“It is a kind of social contagion. If a shooting takes place, another usually takes place close in time and space,” Brå Research Analyst Klara Hradilova Selin said at a press conference.
Furthermore, the report revealed that eight out of 10 gun homicides in Sweden were linked to organized crime.
“Gun homicide in Sweden is closely linked to criminal milieus in socially disadvantaged areas,” the report said.
The report also highlighted that the rise of gun homicide in Sweden is “almost exclusively” limited to men aged 20 to 29 years.
To prevent gun homicide, Brå proposed de-escalation using repressive measures and social initiatives, as well as efforts on preventing criminal gang recruitment.
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